Live from Flowery Branch: Stafford, Ziggy and the NFL draft!

Flowery Branch — A declaration: I wouldn’t have taken Matthew Stafford No. 1 overall. I say this as someone who saw his first collegiate pass (against Western Kentucky) and his last (against Michigan State) and several hundred in between. He’s a great talent, but I don’t think he’ll be a great NFL quarterback.

I thought he was a very good college quarterback, and there’s no doubt he fits the NFL prototype as well as anyone ever has — he’s smart, he’s tall and he has, as the world knows, that big right arm. My reservations have nothing to do with anything physical. My reservations regard attitude.

I see Stafford as a guy who too often tried to get by on the strength of that big arm and who threw too many killing interceptions as a consequence. (See Florida, 2008.) I see a quarterback who wasn’t so much a team leader as a solo act. More to the point, I’ve never seen in Stafford the attention to detail that you get with Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or, yes, Matt Ryan.

Not long ago I described Stafford as diffident, and I’ve since wondered if I misused the word. So I looked it up yet again — you can, too, by going here — and I’ve decided I didn’t. For all his gifts, Stafford is indeed reserved and unassertive. (And I mean in his demeanor, not as it pertains to his big arm.) I’ve never gotten the feeling that losing gnawed at him the way the Ole Miss game got to Tim Tebow.

And yes, those with long memories will recall that I wrote last fall that Stafford would outplay Tebow in Jacksonville. I was wrong. (Fancy that!) But it wasn’t so much that Tebow did anything extraordinary that day — he would subsequently do the extraordinary in the SEC title game against Alabama — as he avoided the Big Mistake. Stafford thew an interception (on first-and-10 from the Florida 30) when Georgia trailed 14-3 in the third quarter, whereupon the game fell apart.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

No, you cannot blame Stafford for Georgia’s three defensive collapses last season. But in three years of watching him I’ve never sensed he grasps the sensitiviy of his position. He can make all the throws, yes, but too often he tries to make one throw too many. He’ll throw into triple coverage or fling it off his back foot, and because he has the big arm he’ll sometimes get away with it. Sometimes, alas, he won’t.

If you’re the 0-16 Lions, you need a quarterback who can make plays. (Actually, you need everything.) But if you’re ever going to get good, you’ll need a quarterback who can manage games. I’m not sure Stafford can do that at the NFL level. He’s not Jeff George — he’s a better guy than that — but I do see in Stafford the same overrating of one big arm and the same underrating of football’s nuances.

There, I’ve said it. Perhaps you disagree. That, conveniently enough, is why there’s a comment box below.

Give me Ziggy or give me … sea bass?

I’m not going to lie. I’d love to see the Falcons take a defensive tackle in Round 1, and I’d prefer that tackle to be Evander Hood, who goes by Ziggy, of Missouri. But at this point I’m willing to grant Thomas Dimitroff the benefit of every doubt.

As UGA B wrote on the ol’ blog yesterday: “If I went to dinner with the guy and he told me to try the sea bass, I’d try the sea bass.”

And guess what the Falcons are serving for the media lunch/dinner? Sea bass!

(Kiding. According to publicist Frank Kleha, we’ll be dining on roast beef au jous and potatoes of some sort. I’ll save y’all some!)

Travel notes

I had my plan. I was going to listen to Sirius NFL Radio all the 51.4 miles it takes me to drive to Flowery Branch. But before I could switch over, “Medicated Goo” by Traffic was playing on Deep Tracks. Then came “The Loner” by Bernard Shakey. Then “Bouree” by Jethro Tull.” It was only after I hit Spaghetti Junction and Wishbone Ash came on that I flipped over. At which point …

The guys on “Press Coverage” were talking about — you guessed it — Stafford, and Lions fans kept calling in and griping about his contract, which calls for $41 million or $78 million or some number in between. Stop me if you’ve heard this already, but Detroit is in an economic slump. And a No. 1 pick making that kind of money going to that particular city is going to have to overcome a lot of negativity.

Then again, Ryan had more than a few folks to convince when he came here. But I say it again: Matty Stafford isn’t Matty Ice.

Round-by-round predictions

This from Sporting News Today, which offers a projection on every pick in all seven rounds. Here’s who SNT has the Falcons taking:

  1. Larry English, defensive end, Northern Illnois.
  2. Marcus Freeman, linebacker, Ohio State
  3. James Casey, tight end, Baylor
  4. Woody Turenne, cornerback, Louisville
  5. Clinton McDonald, defensive tackle, Memphis, and Ra’Shon Harris, defensive tackle, Oregon
  6. Tom Bradstater, quarterback, Fresno State

844 comments Add your comment

brewdawg

April 25th, 2009
3:47 pm

I’m wary to criticize an all around good kid that handles himself and represents UGA with class, but Mark, your assessment of Stafford is almost word for word what I’ve told my fellow UGA friends for a couple of years now. Yes, Mark, believe it. I agree 100 percent with you.

Jack G.

April 25th, 2009
3:48 pm

Its all about Attitude not altitude

Mark Bradley

April 25th, 2009
3:49 pm

BrewDawg and I agree on something! Stop the presses!

JF

April 25th, 2009
3:51 pm

I second your opinion on Stafford. With the team surrounding him and a running back like Moreno his Junior season they should have gone further.
To toot my “gut feelings”, I “knew” that Favre would be special and almost choked when Glanville traded him.
When Vickk came along, there was nothing but uneasiness in my gut…

Now with Stafford….the gut says DOB is right….too bad New Orleans, Carolina, or Tampa didn’t just choke on him :-)

sam k

April 25th, 2009
3:52 pm

I definitely agree with you. the $41.7 mil guarantee is ridiculous considering what Detroit and its citizens are going through. I’m a huge UGA fan but I’m not sold 100% that Stafford will be a star QB in NFL. with $41.7 mil, he better be the next Peyton Manning instead of Jeff George

country boy

April 25th, 2009
3:54 pm

Hello MB. I agree with you on my Dawg Stafford. I am pulling for him to do well but something keeps reminding me of Jeff George. Great natural gifts but not a true winner at heart. Hope I am wrong. Concerning the character concerns of the USC LB’s Matthews and Cushing who we are hoping would be available…. ..I would certainly think T. Dimitroff has pulled our tackle Sam Baker to the side and asked a few very direct questions. Baker played with both at least a couple of years. As I have posted before if Dimitroff selects a punter from Northwest Louisiana Poly Tech State with our first pick then I am on board. After last year we all know he is excellent at the draft.

Goldenglove002

April 25th, 2009
4:02 pm

ESPN just mentioned that the Falcons may be seriously pursuing Glen Dorsey now but didn’t expand on it, any idea where this rumor is coming from Mark?

Jack G.

April 25th, 2009
4:05 pm

Stafford has great physical attributes but no fire in the belly.

Ted Striker

April 25th, 2009
4:05 pm

Mark, I’m not sure how one accurately compares Stafford’s ‘attention to detail’ — to Manning, or Brady, or Ryan. It can’t be done based on a body of NFL work since Stafford has none. I may be wrong, but I’m doubtful you saw that many collegiate games with Brady or Ryan. You probably saw a pretty fair number with Manning, though not as many as you did with Stafford. The point I’m making is that comparing “attention to detail” as a criteria sounds like a reach — at this point.

You know I’d give you a kidney if you needed one, but I disagree with you on your assessment of Stafford. I see no lack of confidence in Stafford — in fact, exactly the opposite. Reserved, unassertive? I don’t see it. In my view, Stafford has just the mentality to be a success. If you want someone that’s going to curse out his o-line and turn over a bench when he gets sacked, that’s not him…but I’ve seen Stafford under heavy fire and he may get bruised and battered but he’s cool.

And that’s maybe the crux of our difference. I think he’s cool enough not to let his mistakes stunt his growth, others might think he’s too cool to take them seriously. Opinions differ, but I believe Matt Stafford will be better in the NFL than he was in college.

country boy

April 25th, 2009
4:07 pm

I am curious too Golden Glove. What would we have to give up. Surely not just our first round pick. Maybe a player too ??? Help us out MB.

Eric

April 25th, 2009
4:08 pm

Mark I told you about that Dorsey rumor, they just said a trade could be in the works.

bass stringerfish

April 25th, 2009
4:09 pm

Ya’ll get over it. It’s not your money. It’s not your team. This is a great time for him and UGA football.

NH

April 25th, 2009
4:11 pm

I wouldn’t mind seeing us give up a 1st and JA98 for Dorsey. That however is probably too good to be true

Goldenglove002

April 25th, 2009
4:11 pm

Would we want to give up our first pick for Dorsey? I don’t know that he’s really a better option than some of the guys we could get at that pick. Of course, I just don’t remember ever seeing him do too much this past year, which is where my opinion is coming from since I honestly don’t remeber too much about him. I also kept hearing alot of rumors about the Falcons possibly trading up with either the Rams or KC, though that shouldn’t be expected

Jack G.

April 25th, 2009
4:12 pm

C’mon Mark—report—who is on the clock etc.—whats going on.

Mark Bradley

April 25th, 2009
4:13 pm

I’ve heard the Dorsey rumor for three days, Eric. I believe it’s coming from Kansas City, not Flowery Branch.

Eric

April 25th, 2009
4:14 pm

I heard we would have to give up a first and either a third or fourth.

Goldenglove002

April 25th, 2009
4:16 pm

First and a third? then lets forget about that one. We need to get as many guys as possible in the first 3 rounds

Mark Bradley

April 25th, 2009
4:17 pm

From esteemed colleague D. Orlando Ledbetter: Stafford’s first game as a Lion will be against the Atlanta Falcons on Aug. 15 in Detroit.

brewdawg

April 25th, 2009
4:17 pm

I don’t like fans booing their teams pick. Yes, the kids get a lot of money, but they are still kids. Booing them shows a lack of class. Stafford handled it well though, with a good-natured laugh as he was being booed.

Jack G.

April 25th, 2009
4:18 pm

My Dish is out—cant get ESPN Called Dish Network and got some idiot in India—I still dont know what he was talkin about

Mark Bradley

April 25th, 2009
4:19 pm

OK, Jack, here you go: Stafford got drafted by the Lions at got booed at Radio City Music Hall but told Erin Andrews he loves a challenge. Jason Smith went next to the Rams. KC’s up.

country boy

April 25th, 2009
4:21 pm

I think you may be spot on MB concerning the Dorsey trade talk. Lots of $$$ considerations since Dorsey was selected so high last year.

TROTTINGHOME

April 25th, 2009
4:21 pm

Bradley your Uncle Tom Terence Moore’s brother.

I could have wrote that article taking my morning dump.

Ted Striker

April 25th, 2009
4:21 pm

Erin Andrews is a challenge.

TROTTINGHOME

April 25th, 2009
4:22 pm

Stafford..over rated..over paid

April 25th, 2009
4:22 pm

Will die on the bench next to David Greene! Book it!

Mark Bradley

April 25th, 2009
4:23 pm

Ted — that sound you heard? That was me laughing.

Jack G.

April 25th, 2009
4:25 pm

No info from Mark—guess i will have to go to ESPN.com to find out whats going on

Brandon

April 25th, 2009
4:25 pm

Tyson Jackson to the Chiefs…I dont understand that pick…

Mark Bradley

April 25th, 2009
4:25 pm

Tyson Jackson of LSU goes No. 3 overall. Good player. I like him. I like him as much as I liked Glenn Dorsey. Maybe more.

Goldenglove002

April 25th, 2009
4:26 pm

Who takes Curry now? I really thought that he was going to KC

Brandon

April 25th, 2009
4:27 pm

I understand the Tyson Jackson is a good player. But is he worth the number 3 pick?

sam k

April 25th, 2009
4:27 pm

wow, TJ to the chiefs. I think that’s the first reach of the draft

Draft Dodger

April 25th, 2009
4:28 pm

Seahawks on the clock…I think they go Sanchez.

Auburn Man

April 25th, 2009
4:29 pm

I heard all the same kinds of things about Matt Ryan too, all proven wrong. Give the kid a chance.

Brandon

April 25th, 2009
4:29 pm

Sanchez would be a good pick for Seattle…

Mark Bradley

April 25th, 2009
4:30 pm

Give it a rest, Clean-Cut. He “looks like a hood”? You know that from one picture? Didn’t we stop judging people on their hairstyles back in … oh, the ’60s?

brewdawg

April 25th, 2009
4:32 pm

Off topic- I think Jim Mora Jr. will make a fine NFL head coach if he learned from his mistakes in Atlanta (coddling stars, inserting foot-in-mouth, etc).

Brandon

April 25th, 2009
4:32 pm

wow..Aaron Curry..Seattle =s got a great LB.

Draft Dodger

April 25th, 2009
4:33 pm

Curry. Huh. Hope Sanchez doesn’t fall into the “Aaron Rodgers” zone.

CorkylikesBeer

April 25th, 2009
4:33 pm

I will be Seahawks fan this year. Curry seems like a class act.

craig miller

April 25th, 2009
4:35 pm

What’s with the rumor of KC trading Dorsey to us for a 1 and a 3?

Brandon

April 25th, 2009
4:36 pm

I think the Jets will trade into the top ten and draft Sanchez.. just a hunch.

Mark Bradley

April 25th, 2009
4:37 pm

Aaron Curry to Seattle at No. 4. Sorry for the delay, Jack, but I was shooting a little video with esteemed colleague D. Led.

And Ms. Carroll Rogers has joined the festivities here, you should know.

Boiler

April 25th, 2009
4:37 pm

Cleveland…don’t they have 2 QB’s already

Draft Dodger

April 25th, 2009
4:37 pm

Think Washington wheels and deals to get a QB here? Or does Cleveland keep the pick and go with Raji for the 3-4?

dgroy

April 25th, 2009
4:39 pm

His teammates won’t like him and will not try to make him look good because he’s an a$$H$$$ and has too big an ego. He cared nothing about his teammates at UGA only about trying to make himself look good…..he’ll be buried alive.

Jack G.

April 25th, 2009
4:39 pm

Any info on trading Vick’s rights for a draft choice??

Draft Dodger

April 25th, 2009
4:40 pm

Well, looks like a trade happened, but it was the Jets, not the skins.